10-04-2015

    It’s all about the ride

    The 1700 cc Thunderbird came to India along with the first lot of Triumph bikes, over a year ago. It has had its share of following, but the company sniffed an opening for the more accessorised LT or light touring. Windshield, leather satchel bags, running boards… bought separately they tot up a healthy bill, so putting together a fully-loaded bike out of the showroom probably makes sense.

    LOOKS

    It is a fullfledged cruiser with a prominent headlight, support lights and back-rest. The regular Thunderbird has twin headlights and a long, sleek profile but the LT looks more muscular and aggressive.

    The colour scheme is twotone — ours had a black and blue treatment that is eyecatching, and the trimming on the front mudguard sets it off nicely. The front presentation has a red Indian look about it: the windshield looks like a headdress, and the support-lights and dropping turn lights the side-hangings. The windshield snaps on and is easily removed but when it is on, it does not rattle or give one cause for concern.

    Overall, a traffic-stopper.

    PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING

    This is probably the heaviest bike in the Triumph lineup in India, heavier even than the Hulk that is the Rocket III Roadster. It tips the scale at about 385 kgs. The 1.7-litre twin cylinder engine has enough power to keep things going so that one does not feel the bulk most of the time — except while braking to a complete halt, when suddenly the whole enormousness seems to descend on the rider’s consciousness. Don’t risk it, buy an engine-guard.

    What worked in slow traffic, we found, was to exclusively use the rear brake and ignore the front.

    For the weight, once you get going it is remarkably cooperative. The seat is plush with enough support for the back. The pillion does get the backrest, and the leather bags are capacious enough. Footpegs make way for proper floor boards for both rider and pillion. The downside — don’t try stuffing backpacks into the satchels, the shape does not encourage it.

    Since the bike is long, and the trail rather tedious it is rather cumbersome on city roads. So only to turn heads, forget it. The effort isn’t worth it!

    For long winding roads along the coast or up in the hills, however, this is a good seat to be on. With about 95 PS of power and 151 Nm of torque, there is enough on tap to handle most situations. Till about 150-160 kph it is a handleable machine.We stuck our neck out to race against a couple of hooligans on street bikes: the LT acquitted itself well. But again, the effort was not worth it.

    VERDICT

    Overall, this bike is good for what it sets out to do — Leisure Travel. In that slot, pitting it against the Harley soft tails and the Suzuki Intruder (and at an extreme the Indian), the LT acquits itself creditably. The only ‘missing’ thing, is the staccato firing of a V-twin, but that is an acquired taste.

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